Thomas Bjørn (pictured by Getty Images) believes this week’s US$7million tournament unites two of The European Tour’s strongest partners, with the BMW Masters set to kick off the Final Series once again in China.
The Dane will make his first appearance since helping Europe win The 2014 Ryder Cup last month, and he cannot wait to finish a strong season on a high in the lucrative four-tournament swing, which begins at Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai.
“BMW is one of The European Tour’s strongest partners, and China has come to have a very strong presence on our schedule,” said Bjørn. “Golf has grown so much here and it’s great to see. There are some fantastic courses, and we always receive excellent hospitality and a warm welcome. We have been coming to China for so many years now that it kind of feels like home.
“We are lucky to have the support of BMW – you know any tournament they sponsor is going to be very high quality.
“The next four weeks will be very exciting with lots of prize money and world ranking points on offer at four great events. We play a long season with many events, and this is what it all comes down to. Hopefully I can play well and get my hands on one of the trophies.”
Six more of Bjørn’s Ryder Cup team-mates are in action at in Shanghai, including Welshman Jamie Donaldson, who secured the winning point for Europe at Gleneagles.
“The Ryder Cup was an incredible experience and definitely stayed in my system for a couple of weeks afterwards, but now I can’t wait to get back to regular stroke play on The European Tour and I’ll be trying to finish what has been a great season on a high,” he said.
“We’ve got four massive events coming up with lots at stake. I’ve been working very hard at home to ensure I can put in some good performances over the next few weeks.”
Bjørn and Donaldson were joined at a ‘nearest the pin’ challenge by home favourites Wu Ashun and 19 year old Li Hao-tong.
They are two of 14 Chinese players who have received invitations to play in the event, and Li, who won the China Masters a fortnight ago, hopes to make the most of the opportunity.
“It’s my third time playing this major event,” he said. “It’s a valuable learning experience and a great opportunity for young Chinese players. I appreciate this opportunity and I’ll try my best to give the Chinese fans something to cheer about.
“This is my home course so I’m familiar with it. I played well two weeks ago so hopefully my good form will continue. I also hope to have a hole-in-one at the 17th hole and win that nice car.”
Wu added: “I’m grateful to be here. This week includes all the top Chinese players and we are all prepared. I think we have a great and exciting week ahead.
“Two years ago, I had a hole-in-one here, but unfortunately it was not at the hole with the stunning prize. A BMW i8 is a great prize which everyone in this field dreams of. Hopefully luck will be on my side this year.”
Karsten Engel, President and CEO of BMW Group Region China, said: “This week we will have a very strong force in the field here at the 2014 BMW Masters, with many members of the victorious European Ryder Cup team being present in Shanghai.
“It will be an exciting week, as everyone aims at gaining a good position in the Final Series of The European Tour’s Race to Dubai. 2014 is the year of the horse in the Chinese calendar, so I wish all the 78 competing players a lot of horse power, and a lot of Sheer Driving Pleasure.
“BMW has been a strong supporter of golf for the past 25 years. In China, our commitment to professional golf started ten years ago, right here in Shanghai. Since then we have witnessed a tremendous growth of golf in this country.
“The success of the BMW Masters just shows what can be achieved if you are passionate and dedicated. So we are very proud to play here in China and to support the sport.”
Source: European Tour